ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans beat the Tulsa Oilers 4-3 last night before a great Friday night crowd of 7860 at the BOK Center. With the win, the Americans clinched first place in the Mountain Division and home-ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Allen will play Utah in the first round of the playoffs in a best of seven series. Allen’s home games will be April 12, 14, 24 (if necessary) and 25 (if necessary).
– Allen still has a mathematical chance to win the Brabham Cup and the overall #1 seed in the playoffs but it would take a miracle. First, Toledo would have to lose in their final game of the season to Indy at home tonight which is not likely. If Toledo would lose by two or three goals then Allen would have to win in Wichita by nine or ten to make up the +12 goal differential Toledo currently holds. Realistically this is not going to happen but the Americans are guaranteed the second best record in the ECHL and home ice advantage against every team in the league except Toledo. That is quite an accomplishment when you consider at the end of November the Americans were ranked dead last in the Mountain Division, 11th in the Western Conference and 20th in the ECHL.
– The goal scorers for Allen last night were Chad Costello (33), David Makowski (16), Wade MacLeod (8) and Gary Steffes (20). When you watch the highlights take note of the hard work and great passes that set up the goals.
– There were a couple of milestones in the game last night. Joel Chouinard played in his 400th professional game. Joel will be awarded the Plus Performer of the Year trophy on Monday as he maintains his league lead +47 in plus/minus which is +9 more than anyone else. Joel is celebrating his 27th birthday today in Wichita so hope the boys treat him well. Chad Costello’s goal was his 98th as an Allen American and that is tied with Greger Hanson for #1 all time.
– Coach Steve Martinson‘s comment to me after the game was short and to the point. “We weren’t very good in front of Riley Gill on their goals. I didn’t care much for our game tonight but with our skill we were able to overcome a lackluster performance.”
– The lackluster performance Martinson was referring to included being outshot 45-24, giving up two power plays goals to the worst power play unit in the league and giving up a shorthanded goal to the 25th ranked penalty kill unit in the league. The shorthanded goal was the 13th allowed by Allen this season. Only Utah has allowed more shorthanded goals (14).
– Zach Hall suffered an injury early in the game and did not return. Tommy Daniels mentioned on his broadcast that Hall was taken to a local hospital by Bryan Moore who is on the trip but did not play last night. The trip to the hospital was to determine the extent of the injury.
– Colorado’s struggles continue as they lost 4-2 in Rapid City last night and are now five points behind Allen in the standings. The Eagles have lost five of their last six games.
The Americans have gained 12 points on Colorado in just seven games since I said this after Allen’s 3-2 overtime loss in Missouri on March 22, “Allen’s overtime loss last night was probably the death knell in their quest to win the Mountain Division. Colorado won again last night beating Rapid City 3-2 and now has a seven point lead. If Allen wins their remaining eight games the Eagles could go 4-2-1 in their remaining games and still win the division. That is not going to happen as Colorado has only lost two games in the last two months. The Eagles record since the end of January is 22-1-1-0.” I promise this is the last time I remind myself how wrong I was. It is hard to believe Colorado’s record since I made that statement is 1-5-0-0.
– The Western Conference playoffs are all set. In the Central Division #1 seed Toledo takes on #4 seed Kalamazoo and the #2 seed Fort Wayne takes on #3 seed Quad City. In the Mountain Division, #1 seed Allen meets #4 seed Utah and #2 seed Colorado takes on #3 seed Idaho. All series will be best of seven and unless there are building availability issues will be 2-3-2. There will be a two-referee system used for all playoff games.
– Not sure if an official announcement has been made but there is reporting that Toledo will host the 2019 ECHL All-Star game. Indy is hosting the 2018 All-Star game.
DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello’s records could fill an entire page but did you know Chad now has 88 assists this season which ranks #3 in the 28-year history of the ECHL. The top spot is held by Daniel Gauthier who had 97 assists 26 years ago and the number two spot is held by Hugo Belanger who had 90 assists 21 years ago. In his three years in Allen, Costello has the #3, #5 and #12 best single seasons for assists in ECHL history. No other player is in the top 12 more than once. No wonder coach Martinson said in his pregame interview with Tommy Daniels that he was happy to have a new four-year contract and that means four more years of Chad Costello playing in Allen.